Thursday, August 25, 2016

Count Down to 60-- What Having Cancer Taught Me

I will be honest, for a while there, I was not the best at getting those yearly physicals. You know, the ones that are meant to help keep you healthy. I felt fine, I wasn't having any problems to speak of, so why go? Then, I reached the big 5-0. So I figured that I had better go, just to be on the safe side. After many times before telling me that I didn't need a mammogram yet, my primary care physician told me it was time. Not a problem, I thought. Unfortunately, the first mammogram found that I had  cancer in my right breast.
I had surgery to remove the cancer, I did not need a mastectomy and I did not need chemotherapy. I did have radiation therapy. That, to me, was worse than the surgery. I was left weak, with no energy, and wondering where I was going to find the strength to put one foot in front of the other. But I made it through, and I made it through stronger.
 During the treatments I would walk every afternoon. It was in the woods where I found my peace. I could walk and feel all the worries fade away. No matter how tired and weak I was, I could take those walks and feel so much better.
During the treatments I learned that junk foods made me feel worse. If I dared to eat a candy bar or pastry that was loaded with sugar, my system crashed and burned big time. I learned to fully enjoy vegetables and especially fruit. I could only tolerate one cup of coffee first thing in the morning. The rest of the day it was all water, and a lot of it.
 I had to get a certain amount of rest each night. Anything less and my system could barely function.
Every chance I got, I was doing research. I wanted to know how to feel better and I wanted to know the best ways to try and prevent the cancers return. It turns out that I was doing a lot of the right things. Eating better, finding a stress relief and rest. My body needed to heal, and my taking better care of it was allowing it to take better care of itself.
 I learned which foods were good at building up the body's defenses and helping fight off cancer cells. I learned simply ways to prepare them and whether they were better cooked or raw. I planted a garden and continue to plant one every year, some years doing better than others.
 I know a lot of people were praying for me, and I felt those prayers.
I never once said, why me? Because I think, that the reason I had cancer, the reason it was caught early, the reasons behind each step of the way, was so that I could share my story. So I could share what I have learned. So I could share the thoughts and knowledge that it can be beaten. It can in lots of ways be prevented.
I learned that we do have a way to go yet and we may never eradicate cancer, but we can fight, we can work heard, we can set that goal and strive daily to reach it. I've learned, never give up, never lose hope, never say never. 

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